A Brief History of the Dorval Horticultural and Ecological Society

Dorval is known for its magnificent public gardens and innovative landscaping. Who has not been impressed by the plantings at the library, community centre, traffic circle, Dorval village, and Pine Beach?

But things were not always thus. In the fifties and early sixties, the suburbs were mushrooming. Factories and gasoline stations were springing up around the outskirts of Dorval, looking very bare and unattractive surrounded by untended grass. Many young couples moving into suburban homes discovered that the care and landscaping of gardens required more than boundless enthusiasm, a love of the outdoors and some packets of seeds. The Horticultural Society of Dorval came to the rescue and played a significant role in establishing the importance of environmental beauty to the city.

Although the Horticultural Society of Dorval had been in operation for many years already, in 1953 it incorporated under the Provisions of the Quebec Department of Agriculture Act. It focused on the beautification of Dorval through the gardens of its members

In 1965, under the dynamic leadership of Harold Weldon, the Society drew up a new Charter and expanded its focus “to improve and develop the horticultural knowledge of its members and thereby improve the appearance and development of the City of Dorval.” Its membership was expanded to include “industrial, commercial, public and/or private organizations.” The society held monthly meetings devoted to instruction in pruning, landscaping, soil management, growing a garden from seed, indoor and greenhouse gardening, etc. It hosted an annual plant sale and various competitions including one for children. It cooperated with other neighbouring horticultural societies to host exhibitions, lectures, slide shows and the Lakeshore Rose & Bloom Competition. As well, it was involved in community outreach visiting The Griffith Home and raising funds for what was then, the Quebec Association for the Mentally Retarded.

The society also had two important committees: an Advisory Committee which was composed of people with gardening expertise in such things as trees and shrubs, landscaping, annuals, rock gardens, roses, flower boxes and was available to members for help and advice. As well, a Liaison Committee to work with the City of Dorval on horticultural matters. In 1967, Dorval’s tercentenary, a sub-committee took photographs of unsightly public areas and submitted them and suggestions for improvement to Mayor Sarto Desnoyers. Mayor Desnoyers proposed that a joint committee be formed to supervise the implementation of these ideas. The Society had much to be proud of in meeting its goal to “be of service.”

This year, 2014, the Dorval Horticultural and Ecological Society celebrates its 62nd year of continual official operation. Its emphasis has changed with the times adding sustainable ecological practices as one of its principal goals. Its annual perennial plant sale is held on the Saturday of the long weekend in May in conjunction with the City’s compost give-away, water conservation information and other ecological programs. There are still monthly meetings where guest speakers inform and inspire gardeners of all levels. The club still offers horticultural leadership and the society is still a community of enthusiastic gardeners. “Life is not only good in Dorval, it is beautiful.”